327. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the 4,000 refugees agreed with the European Union as part of this State's response to the refugee crisis will arrive here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39311/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government has committed to accepting up to 4,000 persons overall under the EU Resettlement and EU Relocation programmes. The overall numbers involved in the Relocation Programme which amount to 160,000 across the EU are set-out in the EU legal instruments. Ireland has decided to opt into these measures and the EU Commission is currently finalising Ireland's contribution to this number which is indicated to be over 2,600. The timescales for Relocation are also set-out which are for a two year period. The first persons coming under the Programme are expected to arrive before the end of the year.
The Deputy will be aware that I have established a Taskforce comprising of relevant Departments and agencies together with organisations including the UNHCR and the Red Cross to draw together the various strands of the programme. A Programme Office has been established in my Department to oversee the programme and a dedicated Relocation Unit has also been set-up in the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner to process cases for refugee determination. Ireland has also appointed Liaison Officers to both Italy and Greece and has nominated two additional experts to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to support the work of the hotspots.
In addition, Ireland is committed to accepting persons to Ireland under the UNHCR led refugee resettlement programme. To date in 2015 under this programme 100 refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict have been admitted from Jordan and Lebanon. It is planned that 80 additional refugees will be admitted from Lebanon before Christmas with a further hundred refugees are expected to be admitted to Ireland from Lebanon in the New Year. The remaining cases will be admitted on a gradually increasing phased basis.